Archive for June, 2009

Back in time

On a happier note, here’s what we were doing 365 days ago:

kelvingrove bw

This is the Kelvingrove in Glasgow.  What an amazing place!  There was an exhibit on St. Kilda in the Outer Hebrides (way Outer!) that really grabbed me.  Dunvegan Castle on Skye also had some interesting photgraphs and exhibits about St. Kilda, and when I got home, I found this website that caught my interest as well.  The life these people led challenges my comprehension.   And here I’m fussing about a little renovation inconvenience.  What a wuss.


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So, picking the wrong primer for the ceiling shouldn’t be too big a deal, right?


Turns out that when your ceiling drywall wasn’t primed 25 years ago when they put the stipple on it, you really should use an oil-based sealer and primer before you put new texture on it, or you can expect yellow colour bleed through the new texture.  2 top coats of what should have gone under the texture just makes shiny circles and splotches appear, and even the oil-based flat finish that I was assured covered up even the worst crimes scenes (eewwww!) doesn’t fix the problem.   Stripping the ceiling and starting from scratch may be the next step.

The next solution better be the final solution.  I don’t care how it gets fixed.

In the meantime, grit teeth, smile, repeat.

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I’m up in the office, listening to the guys working on the main floor.  It’s Monday morning, and they actually showed up when they said they would only an hour late.   I heard a rumour that I can expect painters this afternoon.  !!!

Because there’s not a lot else going on, here’s a glimpse into the past.  This is what was shakin’ a year ago:

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle (behind Mike)

Father’s Day, haggis, a bus driver with a Bulgarian Bikers’ Club Tattoo, dinner in an Italian restaurant with a German-Polish waitress.  It doesn’t seem like a year ago- I thought at the time we’d be doing another European vacation by now.  Instead, I look forward to:



My bathroom will not look nearly as Zen as this, but you get the general idea.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go and inspect the ceiling before the guys leave.

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because this was what took all my time (not including the beer break):

7:00 am today

7:00 am today

TSP'd, sanded, most of undercoat done:  1:oopm today

TSP'd, sanded, most of undercoat done: 1:oopm today

and finally (for today):

First finish coat done: 6:00pm today, and it's time for dinner.

First finish coat done: 6:00pm today, and it's time for dinner.

It looks brown here, but it’s actually dark grey.  I did a shelf first to make sure I liked the colour.   I know some people get all crazy and such when you paint wood, but I figured that 20-year old oak veneer installed at a time when oak was ubiquitious could use a facelift more than veneration.  If it was a hundred years old, solid and in its original condition, I would have just given it a good cleaning.  Now we won’t have to worry about the hardwood matching/clashing/blending with this end of the room.

Ironically, if the workmen were just 4 hours late tomorrow, I wouldn’t be sad because then I could do the second coat tomorrow.  As the schedule stands, the ceiling guys are here in the morning, and the painters come in the afternoon for a couple of days.  I may see if they’ll let me work around them, because I need to finish in the daylight.

I am making progress on the lace wrap, but no photos!  I see by the pics above that I need to clean my camera lens.  I will do that before I take any knitting shots, because the lace deserves it.  After all, it’s lace, for heaven’s sake, not some silly renovation.

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After Stitches

I am home again from Stitches Saskatchewan 2009, and boy!  Did I have fun!

I am a very reluctant photographer; it turns out I’m a little shy about taking pictures of people I just met.  So, this post will be a little shy on pictures, but hopefully I took enough to convince you that I was actually there, and not just having an imaginary adventure.

The conference was in the village of Muenster, which for those of you unfamiliar with our geography, is just five minutes east of Humboldt.  We were in St. Peter’s Abbey, which is a working monastery, complete with 20 or so monks.  These monks do a little farming (tons of potatoes, vegetables, honey (delicious honey)), run a printing press,  bake totally awesome bread and cookies, open their doors to groups like ours, or writers’ retreats, or whatever, accommodate St. Peter’s College which offers university classes from the University of Saskatchewan, and according to reports, make wine.  They took one look at our group and decided not to share.

The knitters were the smallest group- there were only two knitting classes, both led by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. On Friday I took Grok the Sock, which I felt fit in nicely with my recent sock obsession.  I picked up enough tips to make it worthwhile, and boy, did we have fun.   It was three hours, and it just flew by.  It wasn’t a hands-on kind of class, so everyone was working on whatever while Stephanie entertained us.  Fittingly, I finished

crofter anklets

and realized that I was being oh-so-thrifty, because here are the ankle socks with the leftovers:

crofter redistribution

Yes, I got a whole pair of ankle socks out of one ball of yarn.  Crofter DK is verra, verra nice to knit with, and because of the weight the socks are a little heavier than most socks I’ve done.  They’ll be great in my boots or my runners.

Then, flush with my own success, I cast on another pair, but pictures will have to wait.

Day two at Stitches dawned cold and wet (welcome to spring in Saskatchewan:  The one thing you can say about the weather any time is that it’s been damned unusual this year.)  and it was off to Knitting for Speed and Efficiency.  The morning was fun- the throwers got to feel smug, the pickers got to feel smug, we all had fun pretending we were Peruvian men purling our way to fame and riches, and then we were all humbled when Stephanie showed us that we all have ten thumbs and some serious manual dexterity issues.  Irish Cottage Knitting?  Not to be undertaken by the faint of heart.  I know, I know- children can do it, but in our own defence, we were told that the longer we had knit another way, the more challenging it is to pick up the lever method.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.   If you’ve ever seen her knit,  you can imagine how graceful we all looked, elbows out, exaggerated movements, and brows furrowed.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought “But really, I’m happy with the way I knit. ”  I know I was weighing the time it would take to become efficient at the lever method against how much I could knit in the same time using my current method, taking into account how many years of useful knitting life I have left, and I have doubts that there will be any great changes in my method.  I will try to practise a little every day just in case I see any glimmer of increased efficiency, but I hold out little hope.  And you know what?  I’m okay with that.   It was interesting, and fun, and by the end of the day I was exhausted and my brain hurt.   And I can’t wait to go back next year!***

***Sally Melville is teaching next year.  I don’t care what she is teaching; I just care that she’s teaching and I will be there.

Non-technical notes about my weekend:

1.   Friday lunch:  The coffee cup I used said “I spent most of my money on beer, women and gambling.  The rest I wasted.”  Old joke, I know, but not quite what I expected in a monastery.  We all agreed the mug must have been donated.

2.  Language foibles:  In South Africa, a “fanny” is a not-so-nice term for a vagina, so if you are travelling there and ask to buy a fanny pack, you will likely be sent to the pharmacy where they will cheerfully supply you with feminine napkins and tampons.

3.  I didn’t take wine with me, as I thought it might be inappropriate.  Once I checked out the cupboard in the lounge and saw that the wine glasses outnumbered the coffee cups about 3 to 1, it was off to Humboldt to find the liquor store.  Charlene, thanks for the ride.  It seemed really important at the time.

4.   While giving us a tour of the monastery, Father Demetrius told us that the wall between the chapel and the assembly hall was mostly soundproofed, and Stephanie’s keynote speech in the assembly hall that evening certainly tested it.  I don’t know if the monks ever heard so much laughter during prayers, and I’m pretty sure Stephanie has never had organ music interludes during one of her talks.

5.  While congratulating myself that I did not leave my pillow at the conference (as has happened at many hotels in the past), I inadvertently forgot a hank of Wensleydale wool that I brought for show and tell.  I got this wool in Scotland from Teo the Handspinner in Broadford on Skye, so I am hoping that it turns up.  Rats!

6.  While one of the sewing classes was Bra-making, the monks were not in attendance at show and tell.  Too bad- some of the bras were absolutely beautiful!

7.  Aurora from Ottawa had really bad laryngitis, so whispered and wrote notes all weekend.   Aurora, I hope you can talk when you come back next year!

And now I leave you with a few shots of the weekend:

St. Peter's Abbey

St. Peter's Abbey


Whatever will we do while we're waiting?

Still waiting

Still waiting.

Introducing...The Yarn Harlot!

Introducing...The Yarn Harlot! (sorry for the lack of light- it really is her. Just squint.

The Belltower

The Belltower


Also the Belltower

And now, back to my normal life, and wondering if the drywaller will actually show up today.  I live in constant if unrealistic hope.

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And I’ll share my secret with you!  Just send me fifty cents…

No, seriously, it’s more complicated than that.  First, you arrange to have a cracked washer in your dishwasher supply line.   Then, while you’re contemplating how to deal with the insurance claim and allowance, you visit your neighbors’ house.  You know, the ones who are just finishing up a renovation?  Next thing you know, you’re tearing down walls,  ripping up floors, removing doors (this is, of course the Royal We.  The contractor is actually in charge of supplying the manpower.   And, it is fervently hoped, the experience and know-how with regards to load-bearing and not-load-bearing walls and the removal of what we hope is the latter.) and living in two rooms on the second floor with two dogs and your grown son.  (Sounds kind of Iron-Curtain-ish, don’t you think?)

Before the Storm

Before the Storm

Cleaned out.  You should see the garage.

Cleaned out. You should see the garage.

Demolition almost finished

Demolition almost finished

Top of the Construction Curve

Nearing the Top of the Construction Curve

Daylight washes through the main floor all day now, and sadly,without the French doors  it will be impossible to keep the dogs out of the living room.  (Wallace had already registered his displeasure at some real or imagined insult by chewing the hell out of the mullions on the French doors.  Not so sorry to see them go as all that…)   The post at the bottom of the stairs has to stay, since we are rather attached to the idea of having the second floor stay upstairs.  Next is drywall repair, ceiling stripping and refinishing, painting (mostly the same colours, maybe a few shades lighter in the hallway and up the stairwell) and then site-finished hardwood.  The hardwood guy is going to clad the post in wood to match the floor, and put mouldings and fancy-schmancy doo-dads on it to make it a design feature. Kind of like we put the post there on purpose.  Oh, wait.  We did. I especially like the cutout on the far side of the stairwell.  We’ll be able to  sit at our kitchen table and see all the way across the street to my best friend’s house to see who’s coming and going.  (She was oh-so-excited to hear that.)  Once the main floor is done, the construction moves upstairs to my pet project.  I’ll spare you the details now, except to say that it involves a dressing room from an extra bedroom, and a big honkin’ soaker tub in my bathroom.  And a chandelier.

True story:  My husband actually suggested that we should tile the kitchen backsplash, since the tile setter is going to be here anyways.  I didn’t even think my husband knew what a backsplash was.  Off to the tile store goes I, and straight to the $70.00 per square foot stainless steel mosaic tiles.   So I’m thinking maybe ceramic tiles.

It’s way more fun to do this renovation stuff with Mike taking an interest in the details.  (As long as he doesn’t get in the way of my Grand Vision.)

One downside to all of this construction is that my knitting supplies have been disbursed all over the house.  I was barely able to reach my straight knitting needles amongst the china cabinet contents downstairs to grab a pair of 4.5’s to take to knitting camp this weekend, and for the life of me I can’t remember where I’ve stashed all my dpn’s.  I was able to lay my hands on some worsted  to take to “Knitting for Speed and Efficiency” on Saturday, so as soon as I find the dpn hiding place I’m ready to go to camp.   In case you thought the Yarn Harlot only frequented larger centres, you should check out Muenster, Saskatchewan.   I believe the Harlot will  fly as far as Saskatoon, and then will either drive or hitchhike out to the Saskatchewan Stitches Conference.   Wait- I just checked the schedule for STC  (our provincial bus system that goes where Greyhound darest not) and they do slow down at Muenster, so she could even take the bus if she was so inclined.  (I guess so could I, but I choose to go in the comfort of my own wheels.)   I look forward to a fun weekend, although since the whole conference is in St. Peter’s Abbey (including sleeping and eating),  I’m sure it will be a quiet weekend, full of reflection, creativity and peacefulness.

Or maybe not.

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